Strengthening the community through sharing knowledge, a moment from last week’s UU Talk on the Dutch energy transition.

Date: February 26, 2018

Writer: Nakic, Valentina

Looking for a Lid

Last week, I was watching some Dutch reality television (as a student, I have to get creative about improving my language skills), and a phrase was mentioned which hasn’t left my mind since first hearing it:

“Op ieder potje past een dekseltje”

In English, that translates to “On every pot, there fits a lid”. While this deviates from the original context (Confession Time: I was watching First Dates), the idiom resonated with me professionally because I was part of a community project which had recently lost a lid (i.e. our location). In search of a new niche, we came to Seats2Meet and cooked up something with their lovely location managers, Martine (of the Utrecht CS site) and Mieke (of the Social Impact Factory).

I am one of the co-organizers for UU Talks, a biweekly lecture series about sustainability created by and featuring Utrecht University students of all levels. When it comes to finding young, driven, and intelligent researchers, there is an underused embarrassment of riches here in Utrecht. There exist many opportunities to listen to visiting scholars and industry experts, but rarely do we get to hear from students outside the context of thesis or research presentations. While those are vital to academic development, they are admittedly dry, and not a social gathering point. From November 2016 onwards, my fellow co-organizers and I created a venue (with support from the Green Office Utrecht) where curious and sustainability-minded individuals in the student community can connect with their peers and get involved in research, social entrepreneurship, or simply make new friends. Topics range from food waste, biofuels, to planetary justice, and the formats are just as flexible. We have hosted a documentary screening featuring talented graduate student who turned her research on the South African water crisis into a powerful narrative, joint panel discussions, and conventional guest lectures. It is unique in that the discussion is of equal importance as the lecture itself, and UUT provides a dojo of sorts where students can practice their professional skills, preparing, presenting, and defending their positions.

An energizing discussion about the energy transition, fuelled by a passion for sustainable development, not to mention some delicious coffee from the Social Impact Factory.

 Linking up with Seats2Meet

Earlier this month, we found ourselves with a booking complication, two scheduled speakers, and no location. We reached out to our network and got in contact with the team at Seats2Meet. When meeting with the S2M location managers to discuss our plans, we immediately bonded over our shared commitment to the principle of connecting people and the transformational power of social capital. From the start, a UUT/S2M collaboration made sense, with UU Talks seeking to expand its community and Seats2Meet a history of providing a launchpad for student-run initiatives, such as Time Space .

Utrecht is a city simultaneously brimming with urban vigor and gezelligheid. In this dense little city, it is not a stretch to imagine that there is a niche for everybody- from cryptoanarchists to bankers, students to bakfietsmoeders, refugees to expats. While initially scrambling for a new spot, we at the UU Talks team were extremely happy with how the event/location was handled. More importantly, our community/audience members also responded well to the change, remarking on the location’s beautiful views and the buzz of creativity in the air.

Recap of Last Week’s UU Talk

“We have to set a dot on the horizon, but also be aware of the alternatives” – overheard during discussion over Dutch energy transition

Last week’s speakers, Nick Biljsma and Wouter Kersten, still smiling after a lively discussion over management of an energy transition.

On Thursday, February 22, we hosted a UU Talk in the lovely Sydney Room of Utrecht’s Social Impact Factory. As sunny as its namesake, the room had views of canals, old churches, and the bustling city center. Our two speakers were Nick Biljsma and Wouter Kersten, Master’s students at the UU Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development, and recipients of the Dutch Community of Energy Top Talent scholarship. They were in the unique position to shadow various companies in the Dutch energy sector, and they shared with the UUT community their observations and dispel common misconceptions about the energy transition.

While UU Talks are organized by and feature students, we have an open-door policy to whoever is interested in joining the sustainability dialogue! Visitors came from Utrecht and Amsterdam, from an array of professional backgrounds, all curious to know more about what the energy sector can do to become more sustainable.  

We’d love to see you at future talks! Keep up with our future events by following the Green Office Utrecht on Facebook and Twitter.

Another successful talk, the UU Talks team with speakers (from left to right): Valentina Nakic, Wouter Kersten, Nick Bijlsma, Adriaan van der Loos, David Boks.

Valentina Nakic is a Master’s student in Sustainable Development at Utrecht University. Talk sustainable development or blockchain with her on Twitter (@nahkitsch) and connect with her on LinkedIn

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